According to the CDC, teenagers have the highest risk of being involved in a fatal auto crash with a distracted driver. By understanding what distracts young drivers and the laws that are in place to protect them, you can help make the road a safer place for everyone.
Common Distractions for Teenage Drivers
More than half of all auto crashes involving teens in 2015 were caused by distracted driving, but you might be surprised to learn cellphone use wasn’t the biggest problem. Other passengers in the vehicle are more likely to distract drivers than texting and driving, the second leading cause of distraction-related crashes.
Other factors include:
- Looking at or for something within the vehicle, such as the radio or rifling through the glove box
- Staring at something outside the vehicle, such as a billboard
- Singing or dancing to music while driving
- Brushing hair, checking makeup, and other types of grooming
- Reaching for an object, such as a water bottle
West Virginia Laws to Limit Distracted Driving
In recent years, West Virginia has enacted legislation to limit distractions for both teenage and adult drivers. In 2012, the state made it illegal for individuals of any age to use a hand-held device while driving, which includes texting and making phone calls. Strict fines and other consequences have resulted in fewer instances of texting while driving throughout the state.
Additionally, West Virginia has a graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) program. This serves to limit the most common source of distraction for teen drivers: other passengers. Under the GDL program, teens can get a learner’s permit at age 15. With this instruction permit, drivers can only have two non-family members in their vehicle; additionally, one passenger must be at least 21 years of age or older to supervise.
After receiving a provisional license at age 16, teenagers cannot drive with any passengers below the age of 20 for the first six months (unless that passenger is a family member). For the second six months, teens cannot drive with more than 1 underage passenger. Teens do not receive an unrestricted license until age 17 in West Virginia.
If you or your teen were in an auto crash that involved distracted driving, contact a lawyer from Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC for legal help. To learn more about their practice areas, including personal injury, insurance disputes, and auto collisions, visit their website today. To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney in Princeton or Bluefield, call (304) 431-4050. You can also learn more about their services by connecting with the legal team on Facebook.